Teacher and Staff Perceptions of Trauma-Responsive Problem Solving: Qualitative Case Study
Childhood trauma is an epidemic. As children enter classrooms, school staff members face many students who have experienced trauma and present challenging behaviors due to childhood exposure to trauma. Despite research on childhood trauma as a problem, how trauma impacts children, and how staff struggle to manage classroom behaviors, a gap still exists. A gap exists in the research regarding how staff members perceive collaborative problem solving as a response to children who have experienced trauma and pose challenging behaviors. In servant leadership theory and hierarchy of needs theory, the study addressed teacher perceptions of the collaborative problem-solving model, if given training, regarding teacher capacity and student achievement. Using purposive sampling, 15 K–5 teachers and staff members from an urban school district in Illinois participated in semi-structured interviews and surveys. Document analysis transpired for all notes from the problem-solving process. Data were analyzed using open coding and uploaded into MAXQDA for axial coding. The investigation uncovered the following: (a) staff members require training in trauma-responsive practices to minimize weaknesses in practice, (b) staff members recognize the importance of building collaborative relationships with students, and (c) collaborative problem solving has a positive impact on student achievement and behaviors. The research could inform school and district administrators of the need for trauma-responsive training in relationship building; administrators may look to the collaborative problem-solving model to accomplish this task. More research is needed to determine the perceptions of students regarding the problem-solving model.